Visiting Lydford Gorge in Devon is truly an awesome experience. When we saw The Devil’s Cauldron in all its primeval glory we stood agog for a full ten minutes as the waters roared and the mist swirled around us. In my opinion Lydford Gorge is one of Devon’s must-see natural highlights. The gorge is so deep that it is quite dark by the riverside even in the middle of a sunny day. The sheer sides of the valley are covered in a surprising variety of plant types. As there are a lot of ferns it definitely feels like stepping back in time.
At one time the Gorge was the hiding place of the infamous sheep rustlers – The Gubbins Outlaws. You can imagine, as you walk along the dark valley, just how they stayed at large for so long. The obvious highlights of a visit are the White Lady Waterfall and The Devil's Cauldron, but all along the gorge the woodland is ancient and the water is fast-flowing and exciting. At the White Lady Waterfall itself the drop is over 90 foot and the water falls almost vertically. The walk along the river is treacherous in places but definitely worth it.
After some time walking we came to a small moss-covered clearing called Pixie Glen, where the fairy folk live behind their fairy doors. For some reason my children always use the Cornish word Piskies and both my 8 year old and my 4 year old are very open-minded to sharing the forest with small folk, although my sceptical 6 year old is much more dismissive of anything she can’t see. To be fair to her she is the bravest of the three and was the first one to negotiate the terrifying shuffle along a slippery ledge which took us to the heart of The Devil’s Cauldron. After carefully ferrying the other two along we all stood huddling on a viewing platform just feet away from the maelstrom as the water foamed and bubbled around us. Just past the Devil’s Cauldron is a short detour to walk under the bridge over the river which is also spectacular.
After our walk the children were quick to find the play areas and, even by The National Trust’s high standards, these were exceptionally well done. As well as the wooden play area and zip slide the whole of one field was dedicated to The National Trust’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and Three Quarters’ campaign. My children have really embraced this project and carefully fill in the books and collect the stickers. Lydford Gorge had a few areas dedicated to encouraging many of these outdoorsy activities –tree climbing, making wild art, and rolling down hills, and my three happily embraced all that the signs offered.
Get yourself to Devon to experience the gorge whilst staying in our holiday cottages near Lydford.